Georgia’s shelter-in-place order ended for the general public as of May 1. Many remote students have stories to tell after a unique month.
Speaking of the lifestyle changes that she would make, Marybeth Coley, a senior studying English said her schedule will likely be more of the same, as most of her friends are in Rexburg. Coley embraces technology as a way to connect with friends from her home in Acworth, Georgia.
“I Snapchat, Skype and message all the time to my friends that are now scattered all over the country by this pandemic— still finding sanity in each other,” Coley said.
As well, her mother and sister are considered at risk of COVID-19 since they suffer from chronic health issues, so she is still careful about leaving the house.
Coley was one of many students who traveled back home for spring semester.
“There were only about 25 people on each of my flights,” Coley said. “My layover was even in LA, and that flight was still nearly empty. There were only about eight people in my car on the tram in Atlanta and my bags were already on the carousel at baggage claim when I got there since there was so little luggage to handle.”
In Georgia and around the country, some cities resembled ghost towns, with only essential businesses remaining open. Some people were able to continue working, but many were temporarily let go from their jobs and asked to self-quarantine.
“Savannah, Georgia, is very touristy and constantly packed with traffic,” said Brittani Conrad, a BYU-I alumna now studying at Savannah College of Art and Design. “In our third week of quarantine though, I ventured downtown with my mask and camera to record the effects of the pandemic. At first, it was eerie quiet, but it became peaceful and relaxing walking through the squares that usually were stuffed full of walking tours.”
As a working college student, Conrad used to have a busy schedule with attending classes, studying at the library and working afternoons at a local restaurant. Now she takes her classes from home, with afternoons spent relaxing and cleaning, as the restaurant where she worked remains closed.
“I should start working nights soon,” Conrad said. “Things are still slow here, so we are going to be staffed very minimally with few hours. My schedule won’t change too much, but I will have to take precautions when coming home to not infect my roommates. I am going to keep my lifestyle home-based as much as possible for as long as I can.”
Nelson Elam, a pediatrician in Savannah, gave some advice to young adults for the days ahead.
“Be careful and follow the guidance that is given,” Elam said. “Don’t be cavalier about it because even if you don’t get as sick, you could pass it along to someone else who could.”
He also emphasized the importance of social connection.
“Take advantage,” he said. “We’re lucky; we have FaceTime, we have Zoom, we have all sorts of other ways to connect with other people, ways we never would have had before. Take advantage of those and stay connected.”
Conrad shared how her family has done this and expressed her hope to gather with friends again as things gravitate back to normalcy.
“Being so far away from them and having different time zones, we only spoke a few times a week on the phone,” Conrad said. “Now that we have more opportunities, we all have spent time in video calls together and even play games. I believe that continuing, my relationship with my family will stay strong and we will put more effort into staying in contact with one another regularly.”